A Themed Family School Unit Study for Morning Baskets
These activities are a part of a series of posts about Astronomy and Astronauts. This planets and outer space unit study is for a family style Charlotte Mason morning basket time. Each weekly theme has activities for Primary (preschool to 2nd grade), Intermediate (3rd to 5th grade), and Secondary (6th grade and up). There are four weekly themes for this Astronomy and Astronauts unit study:
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Living Science Books
The Planets by Gail Gibbons is a wonderful resource for learning about the planets of our solar system. Look for the fourth edition of this book to have the most up to date information about Pluto’s status as a dwarf planet.
If people in your family are still salty about Pluto being demoted, then Pluto’s Secret by Weitekamp and DeVorkin will help them better understand why Pluto is no longer considered a full-fledged planet. This book is simple enough for young primary students to understand, but also has a fantastic glossary, bibliography, and a who’s who in the back for intermediate and secondary students who would like to learn more about Pluto.
Learn about five different types of galaxies, types of telescopes, and details about the Milky Way in Gail Gibbon’s Galaxies, Galaxies. This book is one that kids don’t outgrow and is perfect for family morning time!
After reading aloud The Planets by Gail Gibbons, or a similar title about the planets in our solar system, go back through the book with your child to review the facts discussed in the book. Then, use this worksheet from our Free Resource Libaray to ask your child questions about the planets and record their answers.
This week’s unit has two listening comprehension worksheets because there’s so much to learn about outer space! This worksheet coordinates with Galaxies, Galaxies by Gail Gibbons (or similar title). Grab your copy from my free resource library.
For families that use narration to work on grammar, here is a narration page with quotes from Gail Gibbon’s The Planets for your first and second graders.
Use the vocabulary cards from the free resource library to create a phonemic awareness activity. Take out any cards that start with a consonant blend (like pl or st) and set them aside. Next, have your child name each card and tell what the beginning sound of that word is (phoneme segmenting). Then, the next day, repeat the activity, but add in a sorting activity. Have your child decide if the beginning sound is a stop sound or a go sound. Stop sounds (like d, g, or k) have a definite stop, whereas go sounds last as long as you have breath (like s or m). I like to have kids try to pull the sounds out of their mouth to see if it can go or if it stops. Here’s the answer key for this activity:
- Stop sounds: g for galaxy, t for telescope, k for comet, j for Jupiter, and d for double star
- Go sounds: r for rocket, s for sun, v for Venus, n for Neptune, f for full moon, and m for Mars
Traditional Folk Tale
This traditional Lakota legend, The Star People by SD Nelson, uses a traditional Plains Native American’s style of art for it’s illustrations. The Lakota believed that their deceased loved ones were Cloud People and Star People. In this story, two children wander away from their village and are helped by their grandmother, who is now one of the Star People.
Adventures in the Solar System: Planetron and Me by Geoffrey Williams and Dennis Regan is available on Kindle and Audible, or look on Amazon for used copies as it’s out of print. This wholesome story tells of a young boy whose toy rocket becomes a real space ship that takes him into outer space.
Order of the Planets
- Learn a mnemonic to help your kids remember the order of the planets with this (free!) cute printable from TeachingOurKids.com.
- Practice using ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc) with this solar system print out from TotSchooling.com.
Sensory and Body Awareness
- Sensory bins are an important tool to promote your child’s development of fine motor skills, language, self-regulation, and so much more. Check out this article that details why sensory bins are worth the messy factor. This outer space sensory bin starts with glow in the dark aquarium gravel in an aluminum foil roasting pan. (I used a 5 pound bag of gravel in the largest roasting pan that the dollar store had). Add in balls of aluminum foil for meteors and yellow pompoms for the sun. I used purple Model Magic to make the purple planets and white glitter Model Magic to make the various phases of the moon. Finally, I cut some stars out of yellow glitter foam sheets. I used my Cricut, but going old-school with a pair of scissors is totally do-able. Making the planets, stars, and moons would be a great project for an older child.
- Get in some heavy proprioceptive work to promote sensory and body awareness with this next activity. Create an orbit around the sun with some play-doh on a paper plate or other flat surface. Then, using a straw and a marble, have your student blow the planet around the sun.
Following directions: Basic Concepts & Gross Motor
- Use these basic concepts cards from my free resource library to teach position words. Use small toys you have around the house or items from the sensory bin for hands on practice of location words.
- Multitask and work on gross motor skills and following directions at the same time. Have your kids spin like a galaxy or fly like a comet with this Outer Space dice printable from 3Dinosaurs.
Our family loves the devotional book Indescribable: 100 Devotions A
Family Field Trip
Planetariums offer interactive programs for families to learn about the night sky with the use of a projector. Find the planetarium nearest you here. Or observe the real stars in space at an observatory. Most cities and even some smaller towns have observatories. Check out this site to find the observatory nearest you. Be sure to check your library for programs on astronomy also. Our local library has monthly astronomy events where kids can use a telescope and learn about current astronomical events.
Family schooling naturally has an overlap between learner’s abilities. That’s why morning baskets and unit studies work so well for homeschool families with more than one kiddo! Therefore, there may be activities detailed in another level that will be of benefit to your family even if you don’t have any students working at that level. Check them out below:
Be sure to follow my Pinterest board Astronomy and Astronauts for more great morning basket ideas for your Planets and Outer Space unit!
Most importantly, pin this post so you can refer back to it during your Planets and Outer Space study.